Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Will You Monogram Me?

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In our current desposible world, the thought of permanently branding our clothing with our initials might seem strange. But in an era not so far back, a lot of ladies and gentlemen preferred to have their names embroidered onto parts of jackets, handkerchiefs, collars, cuffs, cufflinks and towels. 

Historically, monograms were used as a royal signature.  Greeks and Romans used them to identify their rulers.  Then in the Middle Ages Artisans used them to sign their work.  It was in the Victorian era when monograms were widely used for personal use by the upper classes. Female monograms had the first initial on the left, middle initial on the right, and last initial embroidered larger in the middle.   The male monogram had same-size letters first, middle, last initials. Married monograms usually consisted of the bride’s first initial on the left, the groom’s first initial on the right, and the joint last name initial larger in the center, similar to the Victorian female version. A married woman would use her first name initial on the left, maiden initial on the right, then new last initial larger in the center.  Are you perfectly confused yet?!

Regardless of how it was done in the Victorian times, monograms seem to be making a quiet and steady comeback.  French cuffs are in favour again.  That means we are seeing more initials on clothing as well as on cufflinks, tie-clips and other stylish accessories.  I see monograms more on home accessories as well - towels, bathrobes, napkins and placemats.  I've even seen them on chic kitchen cupboard doors.

It used to be that to monogram something was like a marriage proposal in its permanency and seriousness; but with a capable sewing machine or stamp, we can boldly initial anything we like.  If you're not that industrious, just peruse your local antique or vintage fair for just the right item. 

Vintage sterling silver tie clasp Patania

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Vintage Linen Handkerchief Madeira beige monogram "E"
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Vintage 1950's/60's Silver Glass Tumblers and caddy-monogram "H"
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